How Rotterdam’s Green Rooftops Fight Urban Heat

An elevated park in Rotterdam shows how green roofs can cool cities and create public parks in tight quarters.

June 5, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Green roof in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

R. de Bruijn_Photography / Green roof in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The Dutch city of Rotterdam is ramping up its green roof program by connecting roofs into an elevated park via a colorful path, reports Ryan Waddoups for Surface Magazine. “Called Rotterdam Rooftop Days and designed by Dutch firm MVRDV, the path is an inventive example of adaptive reuse to address environmental issues like heat stress and flooding while providing a valuable outdoor community hub.” 

The city’s small geographic footprint makes it essential to utilize spaces like rooftops efficiently. “Rotterdam Rooftop Days is open until June 24 but for locals, the conversation is ongoing. More than 90 percent of the Dutch city lies below sea level, so urban planners are already devising clever solutions for water management like sponge parks and sunken squares.” 

Green roofs can also mitigate the urban heat island effect. “In a recent study published in Sustainable Cities and Society, NASA found that rooftop gardens can substantially reduce temperatures during summer months.”

Christian Braneon, a climate scientist and co-author of the NASA study, said cities can use green roofs as one tool to fight climate change. “In the context of more frequent heatwaves and more extreme heat, it’s important to understand how these urban design interventions can be effective.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in Surface Magazine

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